Tuesday 15 October 2019

Well done on Archie, Meghan - take it from me, some names can be a royal pain in the...

Pop Life

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son Archie (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex with their baby son Archie (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hold their baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Doria Ragland look on. Picture: Chris Allerton/@sussexroyal
Archie is cool and both traditional and modern-sounding. Photo: Getty Images
Leslie Ann Horgan

Leslie Ann Horgan

And so the big day has come and gone. After a wait so long that enthusiasm had turned to impatience, and even the most breathless of broadcasters had fallen silent, the royal baby finally made his entrance to the world. In a move that struck me as the ultimate 'unboxing', Meghan and Harry introduced us to their son in a two-part manoeuvre.

First, there was the presentation of the baby to the media in the opulent surrounds of Windsor Castle. While the internet was admiring Meghan's dress and intent on discovering the hidden meaning behind the fact that it was Harry holding the newborn, I was just hoping that the African-looking wooden bracelets on the prince's wrist were an indication that he was about to hold the swaddled infant aloft, Lion King-style. Sadly not as it transpired, but I'm sure Elton John would be willing to soundtrack it should the couple decide to go that route with the inevitable number two.

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(Sorry Meghan, it's totally unfair and 'awful Irish aul wan' of me to be talking about your next baby when you're four days post-partum. For the record, not being a mother myself, I'm with Harry in the assertion: "How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension." In fact, I think every woman who gives birth should be given the option of an international press conference to celebrate how amazing they are, although with encouragement to do it in their pyjamas.)

Next, came the real reveal - interestingly held back for Instagram - of the baby's name. While pictures of a newborn are cute, if somewhat generic in the perma-sleep of the early days before baba has any distinguishable features, it's the name that's the most interesting thing about a new arrival. After all, a name tells us who the person is - or, at least, who their parents want them to be.

In the case of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, much has already been made of the fact that his parents have chosen not to bestow one of the honorary titles at their disposal on him. And in a family where even surnames are up for debate - now the Duke of Sussex, Harry was formerly Captain Wales - there is significance in the choice made there too. However, the triumph here was not in giving the little one as 'normal' a name as possible, or even in pleasing great-grandad with the patronymic, but in giving him a cool first name.

By that I don't mean something that's cute for a kid and attractive for an adult, although I'm sure that in later years he can claim that the 'Harrison' is named for actor Ford or Beatle George rather than the literal 'son of Harry'. Rather, I mean a name that's already shortened, easy to spell, and doesn't have any obvious possibilities for nasty rhyming slang.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hold their baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Doria Ragland look on. Picture: Chris Allerton/@sussexroyal
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle hold their baby son Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor as Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip and Doria Ragland look on. Picture: Chris Allerton/@sussexroyal

With apologies to my mother who will most definitely be offended by these sentiments, my own name has often been more of a curse than a blessing. True, it tends to stand out in a crowd - there were five Niamhs in my class, but I was the sole Leslie Ann in my school - but that's not always a good thing.

The world at large has an irritating propensity for shortening names, and so Leslie Ann quickly became Les - a moniker I detest and refuse to answer to. The compromise was to shorten my name to 'Leslie', which worked for those who knew me personally, but not for the wider world who saw the spelling and assumed I was male. This led to a particularly scarring incident where a Community Games U10 medal for art was taken back when it was discovered that the masterpiece in question had not been crayoned by a boy. But for that incident, I clearly could have been the next Tracey Emin…

As an adult, I reclaimed the second half of my title for my journalistic byline, but in the age of email, it just led to additional confusion: Leslie Anne? Lesley Ann? Lesley-Anne? Leslian? And that's before we get to the Horgan/Hogan/Morgan muddle.

So bravo Meghan and Harry for choosing a name that not only meets my personal definition of cool, but manages to be both traditional and modern-sounding to boot. Only about a million more tricky decisions to go between now and age 18. And no doubt a million more Archies will be arriving to join all this year's newborn Meghans soon too.

Irish Independent

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